The Charcoal

Excellent Work of the 5th Cyber-Island Photography Contest
Photographer: Din-Xing Chen
Date and place photos were taken: 2009; Baoshan Township, Hsinchu County


Taiwan Acacia is a material for charcoal.






Sweating in the charcoal kiln.






Working outside the kiln.






To know contentment hence happiness.





The charcoal industry once flourished in Taiwan. However, over the past decade the business has declined due to changes in the domestic economic environment. The structure of this kiln in Baoshan, Hsinchu County is still quite intact while other kilns have become ruins.

The procedure of making charcoal, from wood stacking, aperture closing, wood burning, to kiln sealing, takes 7 to 10 days. The workers have to spend all day long waiting by the side of the kiln to add firewood, control temperature, and observe carbonization process; an arduous task. This coal kiln runs five times a year; each time produces 120 bags of charcoal and each bag weighs 30 kg. Currently, most of the charcoals produced here are sold to gas mask manufacturers. The rest are sold by retail to restaurants for grilling or sold wholesale to retail grocery stores to be resold for their customer’s barbeque use.

Taiwan Acacia is an excellent material to make charcoal. Acacia charcoal produces high heat and was the main fuel in Taiwanese families after Taiwan was liberated from Japan. When natural gas became popular, charcoal gradually lost its glory. In the past few years, with the flooding of markets by mainland Chinese products, the retirement of old workers, and the abandonment of charcoal kilns due to owner’s old age or poor income from pitiful selling, the sight of making charcoal is vanishing. If we do not record the process, it will disappear completely. As a photographer, I have the responsibility to record it with my camera to bear witness to history.


To view Gold Prize of the 5th Cyber-Island Photography Contest, please go to The Funeral Orchestra.

Text and images are provided by Exhibition of Cyber Island, Taiwan